What is the best way of landing a job at an independent school?

Hey everyone!

During my graduation process, I found there was a lot of information around rural placement, and the state school system, but not much on how to land a job at a private/independent school. Does anyone have more information about this? What is the best way of approaching a potential independent school and what can I do to ensure I land a job there?

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Great question!

There is a lot of information swirling around at graduation, and you can easily be forgiven for blurring the lines between state/independent schooling. Although the gap between them isn’t as prominent as some other countries, state and independent schools are quite seperate and do things differently. This can bleed into the hiring process also, but now always.

At PRAC-E Symposium II, Tim Kotzur, who is the the principal of QLD’s largest independent school (St. Peters’ Luterhan College) spelled out his hiring process. If you watch the video, or listen to the podcast below, you will get some great information about how to approach an independent school for a job.

School Principal’s Tips for Landing a Job at an Independent School

  • Be proactive - Don’t wait for the jobs to be posted. Write to the school!
  • Be honest and truthful in your application - If something looks odd on a CV, you will get asked about it.

Cover letters

  • Should only be two pages, maximum.
  • Make sure you address it to the principal’s full name, and refer to them as “Mr, Mrs, Dr,” etc.
  • Introduce yourself, tell us what you’re applying for, and state what you can teach.
  • Detail your teaching philosophy, and what it would be a good fit for that school. Match it to school’s as well.
  • Talk about what you’re going to bring to the role. What extra things or skills could you bring to enrich the school and the community?
  • Details about your degree and your practical experience (including the schools you’ve been to).
  • Make sure you proofread your application (including the right school and the right position).

CV

  • No more than 4 pages.
  • Contact details.
  • List your education (if you’re doing well, put your GPA in). If you went to an independent school, put that in also.
  • List any personal development you’ve done.
  • List any additional skills you have.
  • List your referees. Also, contact them beforehand and give them a heads up.

Job Interview

  • Turn up to your interview early.
  • Go to the building ahead of time. Time your run, find the building, know where to park, give yourself 25% extra time to get there.
  • When a school rings you to offer an interview, confirm the date/time, but also ask who’s going to be on the panel.
  • First impressions count - men, wear a suit and tie. Look them in the eye, shake them by the hand, and use their name.
  • If they’re on the panel, call the head by Mr, Mrs, Dr, etc.
  • It’s a sales pitch, but be authentic. Talk about yourself.
  • Feel free to pause before an answer. If you’re unsure, ask them to repeat the question. If you still have no idea, be honest and tell them you don’t know.
  • Always use examples in your answers.

The job interview question bank from St. Peters’ Lutheran College

  • Why do you want this job? Why do you want to teach at this school?
  • What experiences have prepared you for this role?
  • If it’s a faith-based school (most independent schools are), you will get a questions about that faith’s ethos. E.g., Are you supportive of the Christian ethos?
  • How do you like to work and do you like working with others?
  • How do you deal with conflict between colleagues?
  • How do you deal with stress and work/life balance?
  • How do you use ICT in your classroom?
  • How do you use differentiation in your classroom?
  • What is your behavior management strategy?
  • How do you work in partnership with parents?
  • What will be your biggest challenge as a first-year teacher?
  • What can you bring to co-curricular activities?
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This is gold! I can’t believe he told all of us the actual bank of questions his school uses in job interviews. That’s awesome!

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